Prospecting Gifts - or Bribes?

We’ve been noticing a trend with sales teams. It’s becoming readily apparent that a ‘digital-everything” approach no longer works and you have to hit prospects on all channels - email, social, phone and direct mail, to land a meeting.

With that realization has come a surge in direct mail and gifting platforms; popping up like Wack-a-Moles as sales teams scramble to fire off all kinds of direct mail to prospects in hopes something will help them break through the digital clutter.

The problem is, most are doing it wrong.

Not intentionally of course.

The sales team are just doing whatever they can to land a meeting. We corporate giftologists and marketers have failed them.

To understand this failure, we need to look back at the definition of a gift:

gift / noun

  1. a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.

I would also add to this definition, “a thing given willingly to someone without payment and without expecting anything in return.

So what’s the problem here? When sales teams send gifts to prospects, they are expecting to get something in return - like getting paid through a deal with that prospect!

So while it might be cute to send someone their alma mater sweat shirt to show you “did your research,” you are still effectively bribing said-prospect to meet with you.

Now before you start throwing Sendoso swag at me and shouting, “Listen you self righteous schmuck! Not all of us have custom gift manufacturing at our disposal. If I don’t figure out a way to break through, my competitor will. And the alma mater sweatshirts have a pretty good hit rate, so you got any other bright ideas??”

Okay breathe. You can STILL send cool stuff to prospects, we just need to change our mindset on when to send to gifts and when to send “door-openers”.

door-opener / noun

  1. a creative tangible thing that tells a unique story and educates the prospect.

Observe the difference between sending a gift and a door-opener with a simple Starbucks gift card.


GIFT: “Hi Pauly Prospect - I hope you enjoy this Starbucks gift card I sent you! Please let me know if you’re open to meeting with me to discuss our yadda-yadda solution. Thanks!

-Sammy Salesrep

DOOR-OPENER: “Hi Pauly Prospect - I hope you enjoy this Starbucks gift card! You may be wondering why I sent it to you… Well, our [solution] saves teams like yours on average 15 hours a week by eliminating manual process like [blank] and [blank]. What does that mean for you? Well if the average Starbucks visit takes 12 minutes, using our [solution] would mean you could make an extra 75 trips to Starbucks a week! Or work on your business. Whatever floats your mocha. Would you be open to having a 15 minute conversation to discuss how we can save you 15 hours/week? Thanks Pauly.

-Sammy Salesrep

Do you see the difference? The gift version is a nice gesture but is really just a thinly-disguised bribe to get a meeting. The door-opener version told a story, it spoke to an problem that the prospect was likely facing and educated them about a valuable solution in a creative, fun manner.

So don’t send bribes disguised as gifts to prospects… Send door-openers. I guarantee you your prospects will respect you more as a professional seller and enjoy their gif- I mean door-opener, just as much. It’s all in the story-telling.

Caleb Musser

Founder & Creative Director

P.S. check back soon to read my next on when you SHOULD send gifts!

See the Rocket Ship - in everything.

I was recently listening to Reid Hoffman's podcast, Masters of Scale. He had on Radio Flyer CEO, Robert Pasin talking about how they re-discovered their identity as a brand. If you're not familiar with Radio Flyer, they make the little red wagons you probably had as a kid.

Pasin told the story how they polled about people about what the Radio Flyer brand meant to them and the response was eye-opening. To these individuals, Radio Flyer was more than little red wagons. A Radio Flyer was their first rocket ship, car and portable lemonade stand. It was may more than a little red wagon - it was their first little red vehicle of imagination.

It got me thinking about corporate holiday gifts and how many companies still send the same gifts every: fruit baskets, bottles of wine, holiday hams etc. It's hard to see a basket of pears and oranges as a little red rocket ship...

Or is it?

What if we could see the little red rocket ship in the ordinary? What if you could turn that holiday ham into a meaningful gift that your clients will always remember?

Here are 2 free ideas for turning basic holiday gifts into little red rocket ships:

  1. Send a holiday ham or fruit basket to your clients but suggest they donate it to a local food bank or shelter. Include a note saying if they send you a selfie while at the shelter, you will share it on all your social media channels. I mean, which would you prefer - a holiday ham or free marketing and good will towards your brand?

  2. Send a bottle of 19 Crimes wine to your clients. 19 Crimes has an awesome AR app where their criminal labels will tell you their story in an awesome Aussie accent. Tell your clients to email you once they have have watched 3 or more 19 Crimes labels to get a discount off their next order or service with you. Drinking, discounts and a fun new way to enjoy wine - now that's a sweet holiday gift!

May the gifts be with you.

Caleb Musser

Founder & Creative Director

Summer: A Secret Untapped Opportunity

Summer: A Secret Untapped Opportunity

For many industries and organizations, summer is the often considered “the dead zone.” Employees take vacations, clients don’t respond to your emails, and many travel for conferences and tradeshows. This is often an excuse to sit back, relax, and let your whoever matters the most to your business fly under the radar. We often think “we’ll get in touch with them once summer is over” or “they’ll come by a month or two after fiscal year ends.” We may even think our clients or employees “need a break.” In reality, many of those individuals who you think are too busy or uninterested in the summer are often doing exactly what you’re doing—nothing. What does this mean? It means that summer could be an untapped opportunity to strengthen relationships with your top prospects, clients, donors, and employees.

Why Gift Presentation Matters

Why Gift Presentation Matters

In 1992 Daniel Howard, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University, published a study that sought to determine if gift wrapping positively affects the recipient’s attitude toward possessing a gift. Like many psychological studies, there are often sleights that trick the participants into giving a more accurate response, and this one was no different. One of the experiments asked students to evaluate four different products in exchange for a free gift. Before leaving the room, the students were asked to rate the gift they received, which happened to be what the whole experiment was about. What did they receive? A sheepskin bicycle cover. What is even more interesting is that the students who received the bicycle cover that was wrapped rated the gift significantly higher than those who received the gift in a plastic bag. Another experiment tested the effect of the quality of wrapping paper on how the recipient perceived the gift. This yielded similar results. Even the gifts wrapped in cheap brown paper were rated higher than those not wrapped at all. 

How to Choose the Right Corporate Gift

How to Choose the Right Corporate Gift

Since a lot of gifts are given out of organizational compulsion or tradition, most people do not realize the opportunity that is present when it comes to giving corporate gifts. If done correctly, corporate gifts are a great opportunity to grow your business, strengthen relationships with those who matter most to your business, and differentiate your brand in and a tangible and visceral way. Furthermore, they are often either misused or not used, which creates a strategic advantage for those who learn to use them well. 

Reconsidering the Hand-Written Letter

Reconsidering the Hand-Written Letter

If you’re interested at all in cultivating relationships whether for work or for your personal life, you know how difficult it is to capture the attention of people today. Whether you work in management, recruit volunteers for a local non-profit, or you just want to be a good colleague, it’s an uphill battle to have meaningful and impactful communication in today’s world. What about email? What about a text message? Can we expect to beat Amazon for someone’s attention in front of their laptop, television, phone, or tablet? Emails are great, but they fall short. Texts are great (if you happen to be close enough to the individual), yet texts don’t stick around—they get deleted.

2 Lessons We Should Learn From About Business Gifts

2 Lessons We Should Learn From About Business Gifts

When it comes to business-related gifts (client gifts, employee gifts, donor gifts, etc.), most people feel the need to give one around the classic milestones or holidays (Christmas, when the client signs up, an employee work anniversary, etc.). The downside of giving gifts within these typical milestones is that they are often expected. Furthermore, many of the recipients will be receiving gifts from other friends, partners, and organizations during these times. So, if you’re looking to make an impact on the individual and differentiate your brand, it will be more difficult during these “crowded moments” in the recipient’s life.

How to Land Big-League Meetings

How to Land Big-League Meetings

Since I launched Musser & Company in 2014, our work has been given to 2 Presidents of the United States, Fortune 500 CEO’s, all 32 NFL owners at the Super Bowl, Hall-of-Famers and professional athletes. 

As a relatively young company, I am often asked by others in a rather incredulous tone, “How do we do it?” As I think about the influencers who have received our work and the doors we’ve opened, there are two key approaches that we have found particularly effective when trying to make an impact on a big-league influencer. 

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Buying Client Gifts

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Buying Client Gifts

Think about the best gift you’ve ever received. I’m guessing that the gift was probably personalized in some form or fashion or at least it catered to your personal interests, personality, or values. The bottom line is that personalized gifts are the best gifts. Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to personalize my client gifts.” To make it easy, there are two ways to personalize a client gift—an easy way (requires very little effort) and a more difficult way (requires some effort but it will blow your client away).

Kill the Widget

Widget [wij-it]: Something considered typical or representative, as of a manufacturer's products: “the widgets coming off the assembly line.”

We learned about widgets in business classes – a generic term used to describe a generic product.

It’s nothing personal, but Musser & Company it out to #KillTheWidget.

Because most people designing products today are solely focused on the aesthetics, functionality and marketability of a widget to the masses.

The problem is that a widget designed to appeal to the masses is not going blow away the C-level executive who spends 6-7 figures annually with your company. 

It is the strategic insights and design applied to a widget that turns it into a powerful communication tool.

Don’t send your clients widgets. They deserve better.

-Caleb Musser, President & Founder

David & Goliath (The Sports Version)

David & Goliath (The Sports Version)

Long before our handcrafted, laser-engraved Message Boxes, a cigar box helped me land a meeting I didn’t have a prayer of setting.

I was selling sponsorships at the time for a small NASCAR team, where I would refurbish old cigar boxes and send them with hand-written letters to prospective clients.

There was a large nutrition company I wanted to meet with about sponsoring our NASCAR driver. So I sent the CEO one of my souped-up cigar boxes.

It's Not About the Widget

It's Not About the Widget

Why is the Message Box the most powerful tactile communication tool in business?

It’s not because each box is hand-crafted and laser-engraved with American materials from start to finish.

Because it’s not about the “widget”.

It’s the ideas and design that go into each box to tell a story that rivets someone’s attention amidst their busy day. 

Conception, Iteration & Innovation

Conception, Iteration & Innovation

I launched Musser & Company in December of 2014 with $600 and a table saw in the garage. 

I couldn't afford to pay my laser vendor for more than one engraving per box, so the front of our Message Boxes I engraved by hand with a wood-burner from Hobby Lobby

The lids were designed with cheap parchment paper and some of the hand-crafted boxes themselves were questionable in integrity from my unsteady gluing hand.

Like many founders, to see some of our early products I built then is cringe-worthy, but makes our work today all the more special.